Simplicity is the key for UT defensive line
Beavers’ running game gets help but their pass protection still needs work.
Part 6 of a collaboration by the AmericanStatesman and The Oregonian, breaking down position-by-position matchups in advance of the Alamo Bowl on Saturday.
Today’s match up: Oregon State’s offensive line vs. Texas’ defensive line.
Texas: When the Longhorns play simple along the line, they tend to fare better; they have run a ton of twists, stunts and pre-snap shifts throughout the season that have done more harm than good. Defensive end Alex Okafor’s eight sacks lead the team and are third in the Big 12, and his 11.5 tackles for loss are sixth-best in the conference. The numbers for this unit took a hit when Jackson Jeffcoat was lost for the season. Freshmen Malcom Brown (a defensive tackle) and Shiro Davis (a defensive end) could get a lot of reps; they could be primed for making big impacts next fall. A lot of the team’s struggles against the run — Texas allows 198.7 yards — can be placed at the feet of the front four.
Oregon State: The return of the Beavers’ running game (126.2 yards a game) is a direct result of the offensive line’s improvement this season, but its pass protection still needs work (23 sacks allowed). Freshman center Isaac Seumalo has anchored the line all season, a major accomplishment for a true freshman. Will he get rattled in the bowl game or remain his steady self? The line has been plagued by dumb penalties this year and will need to make sure it is sharp from the get-go against Texas.
Hookem.com’s Dave Behr says: Push. Any team going against Texas is going to have a tough time stopping Okafor. But outside of the All-Big 12 performer, it’s a year away from being a great unit.
The Oregonian’s Lindsay Schnell says: Slight edge to Texas. Okafor is one of the best defensive ends in the country, and the Beavers will have their hands full trying to slow him down.
Tuesday’s match up: Texas’ wide receivers vs. Oregon State’s defensive backs.
Defensive end Alex Okafor leads the Longhorns with eight sacks.